A living will is a type of legal document concerning a person’s health care in the future. The living will document designates a proxy, which is the person that will legally be entrusted with making decision on behalf of the will creator.  This will help prevent any confusion or errors should the person become incapacitated in the future and unable to make decisions on their own regarding health care.

Thus, the proxy or representative should be a person who is trusted by the will creator, and who will be able to make legal and medical decisions on behalf of them. Living wills are sometimes referred to by different names, such as power of attorney, health care proxy, or advance health care directive (although each of these names may have slightly different implications).

What Should Be Included in a Living Will?

Knowing what to put in a living will can often be challenging. Creating a living will requires some amount of foresight on your part. It may also require the ability to anticipate some unforeseen factors that might affect you, your loved ones, and your estate.

You should try to address as many factors as possible in your living will, including:

  • The name and contract information of the person to serve as proxy
  • Whether or not you wish to be subject to certain surgeries, medicines, procedures, therapies, etc.
  • What you wish would like to happen should you need medical care while unconscious
  • Whether the living will is going to expire upon your recovery
  • Which physician and/or medical facilities are authorized to treat you
  • Whether or not you have any religious concerns that will interact with treatment options
  • What should happen in the event of a legal dispute over the will instructions

As you can see, there a number of different factors that need to be addressed in a living will. You may need to contact a lawyer for advice on how to make a living will, or if you need help re-writing an existing document. 

What If I Have a Dispute over a Living Will?

Disputes over a living will can often be difficult because the creator of the will may be incapacitated or in a similar situation when the will is enacted. In most cases, the proxy can make legal decisions on behalf of the person. Thus, it is highly advisable to include specific instructions about the scope of the proxy’s authority. 

If a dispute can’t be resolved through informal discussions, it may be necessary for a lawsuit to be filed. This can often help clarify misunderstandings or errors as the court reviews the relevant documents. In cases of economic loss or financial disputes, the court may issue a damages award to compensate for the plaintiff’s losses.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Living Will?

Living wills can be very useful legal tools for addressing future medical and legal concerns. They can often involve some very technical details, so you may wish to hire an estate lawyer for help drafting and editing a living will. Your attorney near you can help ensure that your will meets the state requirements, and can also advise you during court sessions if you need to file lawsuit regarding the will.